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Lucille Mulhall has been given many different titles. Rodeo Queen, Queen of the Western Prairie, Queen of the Saddle, American's Greatest Horse Woman. But there is no doubt that she was American's First Cowgirl. In fact, Will Rogers wrote that Lucille's achievement in competition with cowboys was the 'direct start of what has since come to be known as the Cowgirl'. He continued to write that 'there was no such a word up to then as Cowgirl. Lucille Mulhall, was the first well known cowgirl'.1 She competed with 'real' cowboys-the range hardened cowboys accustomed to riding for days in the saddle; the cowboys who spent many hours branding cattle.
Her expert roping skills were a natural talent honed by the skills of another natural roper-Will Rogers. She not only was an expert at using the lariat but she had a natural gift of working with horses. She trained horses to respond to the roping of a steer as well as how to perform a number of what she called 'tricks'. Her trained horses she called 'high schooled horses' and one was particularly famous-Governor. She claimed her horse Governor, knew at least forty tricks. He could pull off a man's coat and put it on again, could walk upstairs and down again, a difficult feat. He could sit with his forelegs crossed, could lie down and do just about everything but talk.2
The place where the famous Mulhall family lived was the Mulhall Ranch, which was located fourteen miles north of Guthrie, Oklahoma, on highway 77. The family ranch at one time encompassed 80,000 acres of land, much of which was unclaimed land. In addition some land was leased. The original ranch began with 160 acres claimed at the 1889 Oklahoma Land Opening. The Mulhall family operated their show and cattle business from this ranch and had many visitors. Some of their famous visitors were President Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Tom Mix and even the outlaw Henry Starr. Geronimo also was an admirer of Lucille's talent and gave her a beaded vest and a decorated Indian bow.
In competition she won a belt buckle, declaring her to be the World's Champion Lady Roper. She won three solid gold medals in Texas for steer roping, a trophy for winning a Cutting Horse contest as well as many other medal, trophies and honors. At the turn of the twentieth century Lucille Mulhall was American's greatest cowgirl. At the turn of the twenty-first century her accomplishments are still to be greatly admired.
1. An article by Will Rogers, October 18, 1931 Headline: "Rogers Mourns an Old Friend"
2. Philadelphia Evening Item, September 6, 1907 "Famous MULHALL Family a Sensation at Keith's!"
© 2000-02 by Dr. Dorothy Frosch
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